Manju Kapur’s third novel, "Home", released in April 2006 (Delhi: Random
House India; London: Faber and Faber), swiftly topped India’s best-selling
fiction chart.
It has a contemporary setting, but marks a return to traditional Indian
milieux, in the shape of the conservative world-view of the Banwari Lals, a
joint family of traders in the clothing business who live in Karol Bagh, a
commercial district of Delhi. "Home" deftly interweaves the lives and
(mostly arranged) marriages of several generations of this family – by
their own admission, a collective of "old-fashioned people" (174) ("Raju
was allowed a glimpse of the girl, though his opinion was the least
important. What did the boy know of life, that he should be allowed
decisions?") (249). The central interest is the abortive revolt of one of
the younger members, Nisha, who strives after a love-match – with a
boyfriend who buys up elite students’ tutorial papers to win her
underserved academic success at college – and briefly runs her own fashion
mail-order business from the family’s basement, yet in the end cannot
prevail over custom and tradition.
The reading public has reacted enthusiastically, as we learn from the
response of a British cricketer who was touring India when the book came
out: "English fast bowler Matthew Hoggard partially succeeded in making
sense of India courtesy of Manju Kapur’s latest novel "Home", which he read
during his cricket tour: ‘"Home" was a good book with which to start the
tour, an intriguing insight into the intricacies of traditional Indian
family life’"’ (‘Cricketer Hoggard "reads" India’, 20 April 2006,
. With equal enthusiasm, Kapur’s fellow novelist Kiran Nagarkar declared:
"Manju Kapur is one of the most perceptive chroniclers of that microcosm of
the nation state: the joint family. The narrative voice is deceptively
soft, for Kapur lays it all bare – conflicting loyalties, intrigues,
triumphs, and tragedies" (quoted in ‘IndiaClub Editorial’:
For "Home" as fiction chart-topper, see: Indo Asian News Service, "M.J.
Akbar, Manju Kapur bestselling authors of the week", 27 April 2006,

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